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Memory for emotional faces: Are angry faces more memorable than happy faces? Public Deposited

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  • Previous studies have suggested that negatively valenced faces (e.g., angry faces) automatically capture attention away from faces with other emotional valences (e.g., happy faces and neutral faces). The present study evaluated whether this attentional bias enhances memory of the negative emotional faces. Participants first performed a gender discrimination task on a face expressing either an angry emotion or a happy emotion, unaware that they would later be tested on their recognition of those faces. They were then given a 20-minute distraction task, in which they played object-matching games. Finally, they were given the recognition task, judging whether a face with a neutral emotional expression was shown in the earlier task (old identity vs. new identity). We found that face recognition was not modulated by the emotional expression, suggesting that negative emotional faces do not enhance memory. Implications for false memory and eyewitness testimony will be discussed.
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